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Qualitative Research: Focus Groups

Focus Groups

What is a focus group?

  • Consists of a small group usually made up of six to twelve people
  • Gathers opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about issues of interest
  • Group is led through an open discussion by a skilled moderator
  • Allows testing of assumptions
  • Encourages discussion about a particular topic

Tips for Effective Moderating

  • Keep track of which questions have and have not been asked and answered
  • Know how to phrase questions that encourage participants to provide elaborate, detailed (rather than brief) responses
  • Ask questions that elicit participant’s own views and experiences as opposed to reflecting the convictions of the moderator
  • Ask one question at a time, verifying unclear responses,
  • Use follow-ups and probes
  • Remain neutral by asking open-ended questions and avoiding leading questions

Adapted from Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector's Field Guide